Tatton Interiors - a treasure trove in Knutsford
- Credit: Pics; John Cocks
At the age of 70 Francesca Archer has opened a new antiques and interiors shop in Knutsford.
Tatton Interiors, a new shop opened in Knutsford by Francesca Archer, is a little Aladdin’s cave of delights, presided over by a welcoming and knowledgeable lady, who I’m tempted to describe as the doyenne of antiques in this area, though she would probably refute that.
‘I’ve been in the antiques business for 40 years, on and off,’ Francesca tells me. ‘Before opening this shop I had two rooms in a shared space on Minshull Street in Knutsford, so I know what I need to do to make it work. It’s nice to think you can change the direction of your life at any age.’
I confess, I did wonder if this wasn’t a surprising step for a lady of 70 to take, but her experience – and impressive collection of contacts – means that it’s not the risk it might seem at first glance.
Not that risk is something Francesca shies away from; in her spare time she indulges her passion for being airborne, whether it’s hang-gliding, open microlighting or flying fixed wing. She’s currently taking flying lessons and studying for her PPL, yet another example of her go-for-it attitude.
Francesca’s new space is a delight. Saffron and charcoal painted walls show off her eclectic collection to perfection, colour choices she made not purely for aesthetic reasons.
‘I decorated it all myself,’ she says. ‘You need deep colours to set everything against and I’m a bit of a ‘colourist’ too. believe that colours affect your mood, and yellow is a cheerful and chatty colour so was an obvious choice.’
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Francesca’s collection falls into three genres: ‘French decorative’; ‘English country house’; and ‘Exotic taxidermy.’ From a gorgeous pair of Louis XV-style Fauteuils armchairs in their original Aubusson tapestry covers to a dramatic stuffed Ibis to English dining table silver and china, it’s a fascinating insight into times gone by – and into current trends, as this is what sells today as well as it did generations ago.
Francesca’s customer base has changed over the 40 years of her time in the industry, following trends in interior décor and increasingly, fascinatingly, by developments in technology.
‘In the early years, it was mainly people who collected antiques for their love of a certain age or style. Today, there are more people who see antiques as an element of a larger interior design – and not only do they enhance the beauty of their home, but they are an investment too.
‘Now around 50% of my customers are other dealers and interior designers, who buy with specific clients in mind. This is helped in great part by the facility to use social media to promote the business and my collection. I have a Facebook page and an Instagram account and in just a few weeks have realised the opportunities they present. Instagram is, for me, a little like being in a big dealers’ club; we all follow each other and can post items we have in stock, which often then get sold.’
Francesca travels far and wide in search of stock, buying items often with a specific customer in mind.
‘I buy what I love,’ she explains, ‘and learn all about it. There’s something to be learned every day in this business. Every piece has a story. The only problem with buying the things you like best is that it’s then very hard to bring them into the shop! My house is just full.
‘This is also a benefit of course – it’s possible to be constantly refurbishing my home, bringing previous purchases into the shop when I find something else I just have to have.’
‘It’s a challenging industry, but totally addictive.’
Above No. 4 Minshull Street, Knutsford, WA16 6HG, or rear access from Tatton Street.